Voter’s Guide: Independence Township

Supervisor, clerk, treasurer unopposed

Supervisor Patrick Kittle, Clerk Cari Neubeck and Treasurer Rachel Loughrin are all running unopposed. All are 4-year terms. As full-time employees, the Supervisor, Clerk, and Treasurer, maintain offices at Township Hall.

7 vie for 4 trustee seats

Trustee, 4-year term

Name: Jose Aliaga, 43
Party: Republican
Number of years in the community: 20 years
What is your No. 1 concern and your solution to this issue? My No. 1 concern is the township budget, the allocation of funds, and the elimination of waste. The COVID-19 situation has added costs and we need to pay close attention to the budget and keep it balanced.
I have been a member of the Independence Township Board for the past eight years, and have always worked towards keeping our township safe, economically healthy, and well-served by our fire and police heroes. We have a great place to live and raise our families and keeping our township unspoiled is a priority.

Name: Paul A Brown, 58
Party: Republican
Number of years in the community: 50-plus
What is your No. 1 concern and your solution to this issue? The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the township is my top concern. Revenues will be down hundreds of thousands of dollars. The board must manage expenditures to balance the budget without raising taxes while at the same time maintaining the services residents depend on.


Name: Sam Moraco, 56
Party: Republican
Number of years in the community: 24
What is your No. 1 concern and your solution to this issue? Ensuring Independence Township remains a bedroom community. need the residents to help me protect the character of our community. As I stated in a letter to the editor on June 10, “Good night bedroom community,” I have talked to literally hundreds of residents in the township since being appointed to the planning commission in 2003. I always ask how they feel about the community and why they moved here. The answer is always the same – small-town feel, get away from the city and the traffic. They want to live in a more rural area close enough to commute. I have been involved in the updating of the master plan three times. Every time we review the plan, the residents reiterate that green spaces, dark skies, and the rural feel of the township is most important.
I want to work to keep Independence someplace special, the last town in North Oakland county that is still a bedroom community and has a hometown feel. The board’s approval of high-definition and LED monitors to be allowed on signs in all the commercial districts in the township is a huge change coming to the township, something that will change it forever. This change is being initiated by the township board, not the business owners.
One exit away is all the “in your face” commercial businesses we need. The township master plan has always been to have multi-use commercial developments. The goal is to provide for the residents’ needs while de-emphasizing the commercial presence, understanding the need for convenient services. But what usually happens, as it is now happening in our township, is that the local government needs more money. The easy fix for raising money is to sell out to the commercial dollar. Everyone can think of a town near here that used to be quaint and now is shadowed by the progress. That they need to allow “in your face” signs and lighting to attract businesses to come here is an old way of thinking before cell phones and Google, and certainly is not true.
The current administration cannot see the value in preserving our community. There is no representation for the rural part of the community or for the residents who can envision the irreversible damage they are doing to the township. I would also like to add dialogue back to the board about important issues. Currently, every decision is unanimous and with little to no discussion, making it very hard to have a discussion on why the board won’t follow the intent of the master plan. Without discussion, there can be no compromise. We now live under a king’s rule. Please vote for me August 4 in the primary to give the people a voice again!

Name: Terri Nallamothu, 52
Party: Republican
Number of years in the community: 21
What is your No. 1 concern and your solution to this issue? Balancing successful growth in the community and keeping its charm. Seems like an ongoing problem. Times change, people change, technology changes. How far do we go? Not all change is bad. With good decisions, our township can enjoy the best of both worlds. Can you imagine being without cell phone service? Understandably, people don’t want the unsightly towers, but once we get use to the ease and speed of new towers, people’s attitudes change. Cell service has become a “need,” not a “want.” We need to be prudent with decisions, but not selfish.
No one wants the reputation that Independence is an unwelcoming community, do they? How can you welcome new residents and families if you don’t have the space and amenities people need or want? And what about our current residents? Once you’re here and fall in love with our township, do you really want to leave when you become elderly or need assisted living? Hence, it’s our own residents that have created the demand for new senior housing and assisted living areas, that’s a good thing.
There are few communities that can boast having everything our township offers within its borders. How many townships have lakes, golf courses, parks, a music theatre, and a ski hill? You never have to leave! The problem is it takes money to keep these gems functioning and responsible development brings in the necessary income and tax revenue.
I am confident we can have the best of both worlds. Through communication and mutual respect for our residents, local officials, public servants and businesses, we can reach the common goal of a fabulous township that remains a great place to live, work, play and retire, without losing its current appeal. Collaboration and communication are the keys to a successful community. Let’s do this together.

Name: Ron Ritchie, 66
Party: Republican
Number of years in the community: 25
What is your No. 1 concern and your solution to this issue? The budget, the budget, and the budget! Departments like Public Safety, Fire Department, Parks, Recreation & Seniors and the DPW all have had major cost pressures added to them with the recent COVID-19 crisis. State revenue sharing is scheduled to reduce by hundreds of thousands of dollars to Independence Township and this will make major cost cutting steps within the 2020 calendar year and mandatory into the future. Maintaining a balanced budget with appropriate reserves is a must and my private sector business experience and the past eight years’ experience of township budget planning experience will help me provide the input to guide the township through troubled financial times.
New procedures for social distancing will be instituted and as the re-opening of each township department takes place, we will find new ways to perform our duties while interacting with the public. Many miles of local roads will be resurfaced during 2020 and 2021, helping to end the frustration of our local bad roads. As your township trustee, I will continue to work to maintain the small-town charm of Independence Township, while modernizing the infrastructure to support the growth of new housing and businesses.
Independence Township is the place that my family and I want to live, work and play!
I am a current two-term Independence Township trustee, running for re-election. For the last eight years, I have served as the Board of Trustees liaison officer and member to the Township Planning Commission. I also currently serve on the Financial Audit Committee, Elections Committee, Van Norman Lake Improvement Board, and Safety Path Committee. I have served on many other committees and groups over the past eight years to improve township procedures and employee processes that maintain operational efficiency and conserve taxpayer money.

Name: Terry Whitney, 44
Party: Republican
Number of years in the community: 5
What is your No. 1 concern and your solution to this issue? As a resident and property owner in this beautiful community for the past five years, I have grown to love the Clarkston area. It is this affection for the city that is causing me to take a particular interest in the management of our town and its financial health and well-being. Probably the most troubling is (what seems like), the annual construction and repaving of the Sashabaw and Waldon areas.
As a small business owner and an IT manager for a major international tier-one automotive supplier, I am well-versed in managing budgets and projects. This is why these annual construction projects are so troubling to me. This waste could have been better spent on improving our community by investing in our beloved seniors by fully funding their senior center for the next decade. An even better idea would have been to install water and sewage meters across most of the community and save the residents from enormous water bills. These funds could have also been used to improve the scenery significantly in our town by burying over 400 overhead power poles.
The bottom line is our current leadership in Clarkston needs an infusion of fresh ideas with the skill set to manage our taxpayer’s funds properly.
The time is now to begin putting the taxpaying citizens first and stop with the very obvious cronyism that is transpiring in Independence Township.
This is why I am asking for your vote. Together we can make it a brighter future for this town that we all call home.
A bit more about myself: I am the communications director for NORC, and I sit on the executive board of the Republican Party for the 8th Congressional District. I routinely volunteer at the Oakland County Animal Shelter and various other animal rescue groups. In my spare time, I volunteer and help non-profit groups upgrade and maintain their IT infrastructure all across the globe.

Name: Heidi Warrington, 39
Party: Republican
Number of years in the community: 20+
What is your No. 1 concern and your solution to this issue? The current pandemic has created uncertainty in all area of our lives at this point. As a Registered Nurse Trustee, I plan to successfully transition Independence Township into the new normal. The health of our loved one and community are of utmost priority. How I will do this is create a culture of accountability and reliable education on these matters in collaboration with our local hospitals and first responders.
I also feel strongly about continuing to push back on the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) funding. I plan to accomplish this by collaborating with other local township boards to create a strong united front on this matter and any other issue that does not benefit Independence Township.

Fire & Emergency Services
Operating Millage

Independence Township wants to levy up to 3.4509 mills for a period of five years, starting with the December 2020 levy and expiring in December 2024, for purposes of funding fire protection and emergency services, operations and capital expenditures, including advanced life support.
In 2016, township voters approved a millage for the above-stated purposes in the amount of 3.5653 mills. The 2016 millage expired in 2019 with a maximum allowable levy of 3.4509 mills. Approval of the above proposal would allow the township to levy up to 3.4509 mills (being a continuation of the previously authorized fire and emergency services operating millage) as a new additional millage to replace the expired millage for purposes of continuing to provide fire protection and emergency services.
Approval of this proposal would allow a tax limitation increase and approximate levy of $3.45 per $1,000 of taxable value on all taxable property in the township.
It is estimated that this proposal would result in collecting $6,061,729.84 in the first year if approved and levied. It is estimated that 99.13% of the annual millage revenue would be disbursed to the township for fire protection and emergency services and, as required by law, 0.87% would be disbursed to the township’s Sashabaw Road Corridor Improvement Authority. The amount disbursed to the Sashabaw Road Corridor Improvement Authority would be collected solely from properties located in the Sashabaw Road Corridor Improvement Authority District

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